Month: March, 2010
Party Upholds Class Struggle at Texas State Convention
| March 30, 2010 | 10:27 pm | Announcements, Party Voices | No comments

The following resolutions were passed by the Texas state convention Sunday.

1. Be it resolved the party adheres to the principle expressed by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto that workers of the world must unite. In accordance with this principle, the party urges its members and others to support peaceful, legal, anti-imperialist actions that express the solidarity of this party with our class brothers and sisters.

2. Be it resolved that the organizing department of the party be reinstated when feasible with the mission of coherently facilitating the recruitment of new membership and Marxist Leninist education and the connection with appropriate party organs.

3. Be it resolved that in the future if funds and membership allow, the print edition of the People’s World be reinstituted. Also, be it resolved that the party continue to periodically publish documents which will express the political line on current issues of struggle.

4. Be it resolved that the party affirm the primacy of the class struggle between the working class and the capitalist class.

Corp. shuts down Houston hospital, puts profits first
| March 23, 2010 | 9:24 pm | Local/State | No comments

By Paul Hill, via People’s World

HOUSTON – Amidst the nationwide battle over the right of Americans to health care, the Hospital Corporation of America announced March 16 that Spring Branch Medical Center here will close by May 1.

For more than 50 years the medical center has served the health care needs of residents of the Spring Branch community in Northwest Houston. The hospital is an affiliate of the HCA Gulf Coast Division. HCA is the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain.

HCA officials attributed the closure of the hospital to “significant operational losses over the last five years.”

The hospital has been considered by the Harris County Hospital District for purchase in order to expand its bed capacity. The Hospital District, which provides indigent care, has not added any beds since 1991. Officials continue to study the merits of adding hospital beds for the district. Some see this as needless dithering while poor people are dying from lack of care.

The Houston Chronicle quoted Dr. Ali Azimpoor, a staff neurological surgeon at Spring Branch Medical Center, as saying the announcement of the closing had left the staff “very depressed, with much crying.”

‘It’s a tragedy for the community,” said Dr. Azimpoor. “This was the crown jewel hospital in the area.”

Doctors have complained about mismanagement, according to the Chronicle article.

The hospital’s medical staff received a memorandum from Spring Branch Medical Center CEO Jay Woodall detailing HCA’s justification for closing the hospital’s in-patient programs. In it he said, “A combination of factors has been building over several years that have led us to this difficult decision. Health care systems everywhere have been strained by reimbursement pressures. One of the most problematic issues is the increasing number of uninsured patients hospitals treat and for which they are not compensated. Texas has the nation’s highest rate of individuals without health insurance. In particular, Houston has the highest rate in Texas at 27.8% … In addition to the issue of uninsured, which all hospitals face, Spring Branch Medical Center has seen an increasing number of patients covered by Medicare and Medicaid. More than 67% of the hospital’s in-patient care is provided to Medicare and Medicaid recipients. The level of reimbursement provided by these programs has historically not kept pace with the cost of providing the care.”

It is interesting to note that although the population of Houston has grown over the last few years, this corporation has decided to close a major hospital in the interest of increasing its profits. Many see it as a cold-hearted, profit-driven decision that ignores the health care needs of Texans. It provides a powerful argument in favor of universal healthcare coverage. Many people are saying that corporations have no business controlling our health care resources.

Useless War: Afghanistan Needs Peace to Develop
| March 21, 2010 | 10:49 pm | International | No comments

By John Bachtell, via People’s World

In a potentially important development, exiled members of the former People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan are returning to the country to re-found the organization. They plan to hold a Congress in Kabul later this year and rename the organization the Democratic Party of Afghanistan.

The PDPA was the ruling party that led the country on a path of socialism before being ousted from power in 1992 by the U.S. government-backed Taliban. Thousands of PDPA members were slaughtered or driven into exile where they have functioned over the years as scattered groups.

Exiled members met recently in Germany to unite their ranks and agree on an approach to reestablishing a legal political party on Afghanistan soil.

“The main goal is to return to Afghanistan and bring a situation of peace and stability in the region,” said Dr. Zalmay Gulzad, professor of Social Sciences at Harold Washington Community College in Chicago. Gulzad was born in Afghanistan and came to the U.S. as a student in 1971 and stayed. “Once peace is achieved the movement will evolve into different stages.”

In an interview with the People’s World, Gulzad said the new DPA would join the growing democratic movement in Afghanistan that includes a strong women’s movement, intellectuals, students and even some members of the Parliament.

Media reports have noted nostalgia for the PDPA governing years. Many people say times were better then; there was more stability and security. The government built a lot of schools, provided education and health care, according to Gulzad. Many feel “that period was better than during the repression of the Mujahideen and today’s American bombs.”

“It’s a different situation,” he continued. “The conditions are good for unity to bring peace to Afghanistan. Even before Sept. 11, 2001, members of the PDPA returned and became members of Parliament and they’ve been working within the function of government.”

Gulzad termed the Karzai government a corrupt “puppet regime” and said U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry is really running the country.

Gulzad said the main threat to the stability of the Afghan government comes from a resurgent Taliban. While the people don’t want U.S. troops in the country, they fear a return of the Taliban to power, he said.

“The people will not accept a puppet regime. They will work with the Karzai government because of the situation with the Taliban. Once peace comes, people will bring a genuine people’s government,” he said.

The Taliban have their roots in the U.S. drive to destabilize the Soviet Union during the Carter administration. Known then as “freedom fighters” (Mujahideen) they were religious extremists assembled by the CIA to overthrow the government and kill Communists, democrats and Soviet “infidels.” They were recruited from predominantly Muslim countries when they couldn’t be found in Afghanistan.

Because they were trained in Pakistan, they were renamed Taliban, which means “religious students.” These same elements, trained by the CIA, were responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Center in September 11, 2001, including Osama Bin Laden.

After the attacks, said Gulzad, they were suddenly renamed “terrorists.” Instead of going into Saudi Arabia where most were from, or Pakistan where they were trained, the Bush administration invaded Afghanistan. Gulzad says the reason is the strategic geopolitical importance of Afghanistan, its proximity to energy resources and Iran, Russian, China and the Persian Gulf.

“If the Taliban retook power they would be a very regressive force. The Afghan people wouldn’t accept it. Remember there was a civil war – north versus south and within the south they were fighting the Taliban. And the region’s countries would get involved in arming various factions – Pakistan, Iran, Russia and China.”

The main source of support for the Taliban is still the military in Pakistan. Gulzad said this is related to Pakistan’s desire for additional territory in its fight against India and for gaining hold of Kashmir. They want a weak government in Afghanistan and to rid it of Indian influence, which has invested heavily in Afghani infrastructure, education and hospitals.

Gulzad said during the arming of the “freedom fighters” against the Soviet Union everyone denied Pakistan was helping. And today everyone knows the Pakistani military and Inter-Service Intelligence are supporting and arming the Taliban, but it’s still denied.

Today, there are now two separate Taliban, one in Afghanistan and one in Pakistan. The Pakistan Taliban is threatening to overthrow the Pakistani secular state. Gulzad said most of the recent terrorist attacks in other parts of the world have emanated from Pakistan including the deadly attack on Mumbai.

All the Obama administration needs to do is put pressure on Pakistan to stop arming the Afghani Taliban and protecting their sanctuaries from which they are launching attacks into Afghanistan, and the problem would be solved, said Gulzad.

“We are losing many Afghan and U.S. troops right now for no reason,” he said. “Pakistan could arrest Osama Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda and terrorist leaders if it wanted to. Many believe the U.S. and Pakistan want to keep it going for their own purposes.”

“The problem reflects the split in (U.S.) ruling circles, in the U.S. military and the Obama administration. Sections of the military and intelligence community see the importance of a long-term presence in Afghanistan for access to energy resources and geo-political purposes,” he said.

Recently, Defense Secretary Gates, Secretary of State Clinton and General McCrytsal let it be known they oppose President Obama’s suggestion of negotiation with the Taliban, who have suffered military defeats recently.

“The institutions of U.S. imperialism are highly developed. Pres. Obama can’t change it alone. He has very good intentions but the people around him – e.g. the Pentagon, CIA, they are not really allowing him to move from that policy,” said Gulzad

The American people have to demand a change in foreign policy to end U.S. involvement and close down the foreign military bases. he said.

“So long as the imperialist mentality exists – hostility to Iran, China, etc. the U.S. is in a good spot,” he said. Which helps explain why they are rejecting offers from Russia and China to help, he said.

“Russia wanted to help Afghanistan, but were denied by the US. Russia has a long history with Afghanistan. Most of the highways and infrastructure were built by the Soviets. They have all the blueprints.”

Gulzad said international help could come by training and educating personal to rebuild the country. They could be sent to Tajikistan and Iran, which both speak the same language and have the same culture as many Afghanis.

“It would require the U.S. to step back and allow the Afghan government to have its own sovereign relations. The American people have a big responsibility. Look, our government is broke and people are suffering. Yet the US has military bases all over the world and it costs a lot to maintain this. The mentality of imperialism is finished. People around the world don’t accept it any longer,” said Gulzad.

With neither provocation nor justification, EU bit Cuba
| March 14, 2010 | 8:52 pm | Analysis, Latin America | No comments

With neither provocation nor justification, the Europe Parliament viciously bit Cuba … Thursday, March 11, it adopted a resolution that condemns the alleged “avoidable and cruel” death of Cuban “political prisoner” Orlando Zapata and the resolution voices concern at the “alarming state” of another “political prisoner,” Guillermo Farias. The resolution also repeats a call to the Cuban Government for the “immediate and unconditional” release of all political prisoners and urges the EU to begin a “structured dialogue” with Cuban “civil society.”

The EU approved the resolution by 509 votes to 30 with 14 abstentions.

Statements by Reina Tamayo, the mother of Orlando Zapata, and statements of the Cuban doctors who treated Orlando Zapata refute the lies of the EU about the “avoidable and cruel” death of Cuban “political prisoner” Orlando Zapata.

Senora Tamayo was a constant visitor at the National Hospital for Inmates, at Havana’s Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital and at Amalia Simone Hospital in Camaguey where her son was treated during various stages during his voluntary 80-day hunger strike which began of December 8, 2009 and ended in death on February 23, 2010.

“Well, thank you very much � we have full confidence � we can see your concern and that everything that is being done to save him.” Reina Tamayo said in clip filmed weeks before his son’s death and aired on Cuban TV after his death.

“They came to get us late to take us to the meeting with the masters (master’s degree holders) who came to analyze Zapata’s health, and they explained to us that it was very critical, critical; that they were doing everything possible to save Zapata, but every day, something else in his body became worse; that they even had a kidney ready in case his failed, that they were going to fight to the end, but the situation is critical, critical,” Reina Tamayo, the mother, told Cuban radio before here son’s death, as renal complications set in.

“I was able to see the doctors who were there before I went in, and there were doctors from CIMEQ (Center for Medical Surgical Research), the best doctors, trying to save his life�,” Reina Tamayo judges the quality of the medical services received by her son as the condition of her son deteriorated near the end.

The mother of Orlando Zapata was at her son’s side during his hunger strike and during the efforts of Cuban doctors to save her son from the complications that set in during his hunger strike. The EU wasn’t there. The mother has no political and ideological motive, unlike the EU which commonly grovels before US imperialists, to misrepresent the circumstances of Orlando Zapata’s death.

Statements of members of the Cuban medical team that worked to save Orlando Zapata’s life corroborate the statements of Orlando’ mother and refute the lies contained in the resolution passed by the EU.

“The patient suffered a series of complications inherent to prolonged inanition, of being so long without ingesting any food,” said Dr. Gimel Sosa Martin of the National Hospital for Inmates.

Dr. Jesus Barreto Penie at Havana’s Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital said: “In that case, one can maintain the person more or less well-nourished by implementing artificial feeding techniques, which may include parenteral techniques, but that is not sufficient to guarantee long-term survival, when the digestive tube or digestive tract is not used — essentially the small and large intestines, which have a series of vital functions that precisely guarantee contact with the food ingested. If a person does not receive that stimulus for days or weeks, the intestine begins to lose its functions, and one of the most important is the immunological one. The intestine is the most important immunological organ, and what maintains that immuno competence is precisely contact with the foods that one receives; hence, atrophy of the intestinal mucous may occur; the intestine becomes thinner; in fact, it is described as becoming almost like transparent paper. That’s where complications come in, such as digestive haemorrhages, intestinal perforations, and what is the most dangerous and most serious — which is what ends the life of many of these patients — is when they begin to pass along the bacteria that normally co-exist in the small intestine, and above all in the large one, into the blood, and multiple infections occur, which are what kills the patient.”

“The patient did not wish to eat, by his own desire. When one decides not to eat, the body begins to self-cannibalize; in other words, this is a person who begins to consume him or herself because his or her own body is looking for away to sustain itself in face of that insufficiency of food intake orally. That was what happened to Orlando; he began to exhaust his proteins, to exhaust his carbohydrates, to exhaust his fats, and after 47 or 48 days without ingesting food, he was a patient (for whom) it is very difficult to recover via the oral channel,” said Dr. Mariano Izquierdo.

Doctor Daile Burgos said: “At this center, we continued providing the medical attention to Zapata, which he received at the Amalia Simone Hospital in Camaguey. This patient was in the open wards for some time, and later was transferred to a progressive care and intensive therapy unit, because of his state of debilitation produced by the inanition resulting from his voluntary fast, and for artificial, parenteral nutrition; that is, feeding through a vein, due to the patient’s refusal to ingest food. Here, there was very close follow-up by this hospital in Camaguey, including with support from a psychological standpoint to warn him about all the deadly consequences that this prolonged fast could bring. And I do think that he was closely followed and treated, including with cutting-edge products, with respect to alimentation and very close follow-up by the therapy units at that center.”

In other words, the consensus of the doctors, an opinion with which the patient’s mother concurs, is Zapata’s death is neither “unavoidable” nor “cruel.” The consensus of the doctors is Orlando Zapata died from (1) inanition… this is, an exhausted condition that results from lack of food and (2) a set of complications including infection, renal, and immunological conditions produced or aggravated by inanition. The Cuban Doctors tried to force food into Zapata’s body through his veins and this procedure relieved somewhat the problems associated with (1), the inanition, but not the problems associated with (2), the set of complications that largely arose from inanition.

Why would the EU pass a resolution against Cuba that is glaringly contrary to the evidence of the most credible witnesses … namely, Zapata’s family, and glaringly contrary to the most competent witnesses, the Cuban doctors who treated Zapata?

Credibility and competence are pearls that should never be cast before swine, especially in the EU parliament … they can’t distinguish between pearls and the mixture of mud, filth, and slop they love.

Convention Discussion: CPUSA at the Crossroads
| March 9, 2010 | 9:29 am | Announcements, Party Voices | No comments

This is the contribution by the Houston club of the CPUSA to pre-convention discussions.

The Communist Party USA offers the best political hope for working people in this country. At a time of great change in the United States, the CPUSA has the experience and history to lead important struggles. With these opportunities come significant questions for our party. The decisions, tactics and conclusions offered by party leadership over the last couple of years demand examination. We believe that our party is at a crossroads and we must make major changes in ideology and practice in order to end years of stagnation and dwindling membership.

POLITICAL STRATEGY AND TACTICS

Alignment with the Democratic Party

Although most progressives were thrilled with the election of President Barack Obama, the first African-American President of this country, we must make a realistic assessment of this achievement.

President Obama’s election marks a departure from the direction of the extreme right. However, in no way can it be considered a qualitative change in the direction of our government and nation. Obama is a Democrat, and as such, will continue to represent the interests of the wealthy elite. Many policies antithetical to the interests of working people have been continued, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By not acknowledging these facts, the Party leadership appears to be forsaking its historic role as an unremitting fighter for jobs, equality, peace, not to mention its role in championing socialism.

The fight against the ultra right

Although the ultra right-wing in U.S. Politics remains a threat, its existence cannot justify silence in the face of the Obama administration’s errors that harm working class interests. Party leadership has failed to assertively speak out against the White House’s erroneous, pro-big-business policies at a time when history requires we do so.

The struggle against Bush policies carried forward into the new administration must continue and intensify. When the administration sides with progressives, it should be supported strongly. Similarly, the obstructionist Republicans and Democrats should be identified clearly and efforts need to be made to remove them from office and replace them with progressives.

We need to work tirelessly to put together the coalitions necessary to build mass movements to respond to the destructive nature of the ultra-right and capitalism. The fight is not over. It has barely started.

DAY-TO-DAY OPERATION OF THE PARTY

The need for organization and discipline

We have been concerned about the lack of organizational effort on the part of CPUSA leadership. In Houston, we have received very few names of individuals in the area interested in the party. We have been very vocal about this and were told by leadership to “stop agitating” about this issue.

This low number of contacts leads to two possible conclusions. One would be the party is not attracting people with its political line so that few are contacting. The other conclusion would be that party staff are not forwarding the names or responding to inquiries. Either of these possibilities would have dire consequences for any effort to build the party and would spell doom for the future of the party if this is continued.

Along these lines, our club has been contacted by frustrated people from around the country who tell us they have attempted to contact the party numerous times and have received no response. Some party members in Houston attempted to contact the YCL and in fact were supported by our District Organizer in this effort and never received a reply. Some friends of the party from Houston attempted to contact the CPUSA and never received a response.

Prioritize youth

The Houston club is greatly encouraged by recent discussion documents that seek to prioritize youth organizing and overall party growth. With such a commitment, we believe, must come a transparent and sincere endeavor to cultivate better internal communications. Specific improvements of day-to-day operations in the party, providing appropriate resources to local clubs, and giving potential recruits an opportunity to connect locally must be part of any national discussion.

Positive Internet developments

To its credit, the CPUSA has named Jim Lane of Dallas to coordinate people contacting the party from the Internet, but who do not live in an area with a club. He has been doing a marvelous job and it is paying off. New members have been writing for our press and one wrote an excellent pre-convention discussion document. Party leadership should provide further guidance for Internet use and should articulate the overall outreach, recruitment and political strategies for its use, especially social media, for local clubs as well as the party as a whole.

WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

Outreach to mass media

There needs to be more outreach from the national office to mass media organizations, particularly progressive outlets. Some party leaders have appeared on right-wing shows and that should not be repeated. The party should not be disgraced by being associated with such buffoons as Glenn Beck.

Spanish-speaking outreach

Traditionally, the party has reached out to Spanish-speaking peoples. Recent personnel cuts have set us back. The party should return to, intensify and deepen our outreach work to Spanish-speaking peoples. Spanish-language Internet sites need further development.

Marxist education

One of the CPUSA’s strengths is our understanding of Marxism and the application of this theory in political strategy and tactics.The working class desperately needs an understandable guide to classic theory and how it is relevant to their everyday life and struggles. The Little School http://tx.cpusa.org/ has made great strides in furthering Marxist education with little support from the rest of the party. Party leadership should support this effort wholeheartedly and provide needed resources to build and expand this effort. Jim Lane is providing webinars on a variety of educational topics and this new technology opens up opportunities for education and training in a convenient, inexpensive on-line environment.

Let’s lead some struggles for a change

The Bush administration took the nation in a destructive direction. This provides us with countless opportunities to lead the working class.

We cannot lead the fight for the interests of the working class by just blending into the Democratic Party and trade unions. Of course, we need to work with these organizations and others and we need to take on our role as coalition and unity builders.

A labor leader once said, “The way to be a leader is to find a crowd and get out in front of it.” The CPUSA can lead the masses of working people, the poor and the oppressed. Unfortunately, we have failed to get out in front and in many instances lag behind.

In short, in order for the CPUSA to grow, we need to open up and reach out to the working class. If we fail in this effort, the working class will suffer while the capitalists will notch up another victory.

This is an exciting historical period. CPUSA is uniquely positioned to use our historical materialist methodology to lead our class, the working class, forward! The dismal records of the Democrats and Republicans have failed us miserably. Working people need a party that will speak for us. We need a party that sees things from our perspective. That party is the CPUSA!

Eva Golinger: Venezuela 101
| March 7, 2010 | 11:23 am | Analysis, Latin America | No comments